Opinion Piece Examines Mexico City Policy’s Impacts On Services Provided By PEPFAR Implementing Partners

Devex: Opinion: The ‘global gag rule’ hits PEPFAR implementers, study shows
Jennifer Sherwood, policy associate at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, and Matthea Roemer, Global Health Corps fellow based in Rwanda

“January marked the second anniversary of U.S. President Donald Trump’s reinstatement and expansion of the ‘global gag rule’ — which bars U.S. global health funding to any [foreign non-governmental] organization that provides abortions, counsels or refers for abortion services, or advocates for access to safe abortion. A new report shows how the policy, which has known detrimental impacts on the reproductive health of women and girls, is now also undermining U.S. investments in global HIV prevention, namely the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. … In a recently published study led by amfAR and Johns Hopkins University, nearly 300 PEPFAR implementing partners from 45 countries responded to a confidential electronic survey. The results were clear: The expanded gag rule has impeded the ability of PEPFAR implementing partners to provide full sexual and reproductive health services, disrupting the provision of contraception and HIV services. … These results extend existing evidence showing the harmful effects of the gag rule on sexual and reproductive health outcomes to U.S.-funded HIV/AIDS programs. U.S. global health policy should be responsive to emerging evidence in the field in order to increase the effectiveness of U.S. investments. One such policy initiative has been the recent introduction of the Global HER Act, which urges Congress to permanently end the global gag rule. This would ensure that U.S foreign assistance such as PEPFAR remains in the hands of the most effective partners in combatting HIV. Sound policy should be based upon effectiveness — not politics and ideology” (4/16).